Screening & Diagnostic Tests

Partner with the specialists at Essentia Health for screening and diagnostic tests that can help identify heart and vascular conditions. You can rely on our experienced doctors for safe, accurate, and comprehensive testing services.

Screening tests are done to check for problems before symptoms appear. Your doctor may recommend certain screening tests depending on your risk factors, family history, and overall health. Diagnostic tests are performed if you have symptoms of a heart condition.

When to be Tested

Your primary care doctor may recommend certain diagnostic tests if you have signs of a heart condition. Sometimes, heart conditions cause noticeable symptoms and sometimes they don't. Talk to your primary care doctor if you experience symptoms like:

  • An irregular heartbeat
  • Chest pain
  • Fainting
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swollen ankles or feet

Imaging Tests

The following cardiac imaging tests show how your heart and blood vessels are working.

  • Angiogram – Uses an injection of contrast dye to make your blood vessels show up on an X-ray
  • Coronary calcium scoring – Looks for early stages of heart disease in your arteries using computed tomography (CT)
  • Cardiac catheterization – Places a thin, flexible tube in your heart to get information about the heart and blood vessels on an X-ray
  • Echocardiogram – Uses an ultrasound test to show how the heart beats and pumps blood
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) – Creates detailed pictures of your heart
  • A PET scan – Uses an injection of contrast dye to make your heart and blood vessels visible on a camera

Heart Stress Tests

During this test, your heart rate is tracked while you use an exercise machine like a treadmill. If you can't perform the exercise, you will be given a medication to mimic the effects of exercise on your heart.

You may also need stress echocardiogram. This test takes ultrasound images of your heart before and after an exercise stress test.

Heart Rhythm Tests

An arrhythmia is a condition where your heart beats irregularly, either too fast or too slow. To check for an arrhythmia, you may have one of the following three tests:

  • Cardiac electrophysiologic (EP) study, also called heart mapping – Uses a thin, flexible tube to send electrical signals to your heart and record how it responds
  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) – Records your heart’s electrical activity using electrodes placed on your skin
  • Loop recorder, or implantable event monitor— Reveals your heart’s electrical activity

Vascular Tests

Trust the vascular medicine experts at Essentia for tests to check for blockages, hardening of the arteries, or other problems.

Healthy Living: Vascular Health Screening Tests Video Transcript

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News Anchor at desk.

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SPEAKER: Family history, lifestyle choices, age all can play a role in deciding whether you would benefit from a vascular screening test. Kim Kaiser has more. [MACHINE PUMPING]

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Man lies looking over his shoulder to monitor. Woman in gloves holds a small device on his neck while looking at monitor. Text, Vascular Screening.

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KIM KAISER: That's the sound that accompanies a carotid artery ultrasound, part of the vascular screening program offered through Essentia Health's Heart and Vascular Center. This test looks for blockages in the main arteries leading from the neck to the head, blockages that could lead to stroke if left untreated. It's one of three simple, painless tests that are included in the vascular screening.

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Woman holds device at man's wrist.

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A staff member also checks blood pressures in the arms and legs to detect peripheral arterial disease.

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Dr. Christopher DeMaioribus, Vascular Surgeon

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DR. CHRISTOPHER DEMAIORIBUS: The vascular screening program is designed to detect the presence of systemic atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. KIM KAISER: Dr. Christopher DeMaioribus, a vascular surgeon at Essentia Health, says certain patient groups can benefit from the tests.

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Doctor sits at computer

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DR. CHRISTOPHER DEMAIORIBUS: People that we would like to screen for the presence of vascular disease are people who have risk factors for vascular disease. And the risk factors that we know about for this are age. It's a disease with an increased occurrence with a higher age. Smoking is probably the most important risk factor, high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol and triglycerides in the bloodstream. Or for aortic aneurysms, a family history of aneurysm. Those people who have those risk factors should consider being screened to determine the presence of that disease. And so when they call to schedule a screening appointment, they go through a list of questions that lets us let them know whether they're a good candidate to be screened. KIM KAISER: The information that's gained during the screenings could catch a life threatening blockage. But much more often, it detects the beginnings of a vascular problem, which can help patients prevent further complications and stay healthier. DR. CHRISTOPHER DEMAIORIBUS: The main purpose behind the screening program is detecting the presence of this systemic illness so that we can initiate treatment with the only form of therapy that's known to affect those outcomes, which is risk factor modifications. KIM KAISER: That means taking important steps to stop smoking, lower cholesterol, and get diabetes under control, for example. Another part of the screening looks for abdominal aortic aneurysms, a life threatening bulge in the main artery of the abdomen.

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Woman holds device over man's abdomen.

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DR. CHRISTOPHER DEMAIORIBUS: For aneurysms, it's different. And aneurysms are a dilation of the main artery in the abdomen, and they're a significant cause of death in people who have those. And unfortunately, they cause no symptoms until they cause bad symptoms, such as leaking or being ready to rupture. So the only way that's really been proven to decrease the death rate from having aneurysms is finding them, and so screening assumes a little bit different role in that group of people. KIM KAISER: The screenings include a consultation with a vascular nurse to interpret the results, which go to a patient's primary doctor. For Healthy Living, I'm Kim Kaiser.

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Text, Vascular screenings, Essentia Health Heart and Vascular Center.

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SPEAKER: A vascular screening costs just $75. Screenings are offered in Duluth and at various Essentia Health clinics throughout our region. For more information on locations and dates call (218) 786-8318.

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Also, the heart and vascular center is offering a new wellness program which helps patients understand their individual risk factors for heart disease. The screenings include tests for cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood glucose levels, along with a consultation with a cardiac nurse practitioner.

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Still to come, you might not be looking forward to your next colonoscopy, but this test can have a big impact on your health. We'll talk with an expert when we come back.

[MUSIC PLAYING]

(DESCRIPTION)
video of inside of colon, pink cylindrical tunnel. Text, Dexa Scans, Esentia Health, Duluth Clinic Rheumatology Department. 218-786-8888. Requires physician referral. Vascular Screenings, Essentia Health Heart and Vascular Center. Call 218-786-8318. Cost $75 Wellness Program, Essentia Health Heart and Vascular Center. Call 218-786-3443, Covered by most health insurance. Coming up in June, Kid-friendly care. Monday, June 27, 6:30 PM. KBJR 6 and Range 11. Email your questions to healthy living@smdc.org

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